The Whichness Of The Why

Rene DesCartes

Philosophers have nothing to say, but will take all day (or all of their lives) to say it.

In my ongoing attempts to get psychological explanations for why people – often Christians, but also Atheists – believe what they do, I kept running into philosophers. I thought that Philosophers were deep-thinkers, who used the power of their intellect to uncover important social revelations.

The more I read though, the more I realized that this was not so. One of them, like René Descartes (above) might make a significant claim, like; “Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am” then the rest of them would discuss and debate it. If only one Philosopher contended a theory, it was like mental masturbation. If a group of them worried it like a dog with a bone, it was more like a circle-jerk. It made them all feel good, without actually accomplishing anything.

Often, no-one really proved anything. They just kept arguing with one another until observed facts finally showed one of them to be the closest guesser. Then folks would congratulate him as if he’d discovered something.

Even the winner of a debate, or series of debates, did not reveal, or prove, any particular truth. The champion became the victor by looking the best, yelling the loudest, and waving his hands the most. One Philosopher had a mortal enemy, another debater. There was only one subject about which the two agreed. Mr. Ego challenged his opponent to a debate, and took the ‘anti’ side. He won the debate by disproving an opinion that he held.

Despite the fact that colleges and Universities teach Philosophy, we have no Philosophers any more. What we have today are authors, bloggers, podcasters, and Christian Apologetics. All of them are full of strongly-held opinions, but if you laid them all end-to-end, they wouldn’t reach a valid conclusion.

Gilileo Goes To Jail

Case in point, a book that I recently read, titled Galileo Goes To Jail, 25 myths about Science and Religion. Seldom have I seen hairs split so finely, with no purpose other than to make the contributors appear learned and impressive. All 25 writers tiptoed through the minefield of truth and logic, but I felt the worst among them was the jackass who set out to prove that

Giordano Bruno Was Not The First Martyr Of Modern Science

Now, the first of anything is going to look different from what has gone before. This genius wanted to play the “Own The Definition” game. He started by claiming that Bruno was not a scientist, or was not teaching science. Of course not! Back then, the words, the definitions, the very concepts of “science” and “scientist” did not exist. Everything was Natural Philosophy.

‘Science’ did not exist, and Bruno wasn’t ‘teaching’ it. He did however publicly express and debate his opinions and conclusions about reality. He openly held Galileo’s position, that the Earth moved, and the sun didn’t, contrary to the Church’s dogma of a fixed and unmoving Earth. His claims were heresy to The Holy Catholic Church, which owned the definition of heresy.

Heresy they might have been, but as the equivalents of modern Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Mathematics, they were a Hell of a lot more like science than say, if the Pope might not be infallible, God did not exist in three parts, or we had to eat fish on Friday.

I try not to be hidebound in my opinions, and not get caught in confirmation bias. I invite, and delight in, discussion and debate about anything I publish. If you prove me wrong about any claim I make, I will accept defeat Philosophically. 😉

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Oops, I left a link to a 1949 Sci-Fi story at the end of this draft.  Rather than delete it –  anybody want to access and read it??

Edmond Hamilton – Alien Earth

https://archive.org/details/Thrilling_Wonder_Stories_v34n01_1949-04/page/n51

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – L

AtoZ2019letter-l

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superstition

And superstition rears its ugly head again. Closed-minded tribalism makes too many of humanity fear anything different. Destroy it! Destroy it! It is the Devil’s work! 😯

This post takes for its theme, the word

LANUGO

Noun; a coat of delicate, downy hairs, especially that with which the human fetus or a newborn infant is covered.

A few times (far too few), Bible-thumping Christian Fundamentalists have changed their minds about LGBT+, when they realized that their child was gay, but not evil and sinful. One Southern Methodist preacher had three of his four children (two sons, and his daughter) go gay on him.

It is regrettable that extreme cases of lanugos are not more common. It might educate the evolution-denying, Young Earth Creationists, to have a baby that looked like a Bonobo pop out. It would clearly show that we are related to monkeys – although the monkeys might object.

Lanugo

While the occasional baby has a thick enough coat of fur to look like a chimp, it falls off within days, or a week, leaving a pink, squalling, naked ape. While not afflicted with an actual lanugo, my son’s enate Italian heritage gave him considerable heavy body hair at birth – arms, legs, shoulders, back. He looked like a miniature, stereotypical Guido. He had a full head of black hair the day he was born. Old wives’ tales say that it causes the mother heartburn. He got his first haircut at age three months.

I’m not sure, even in today’s society, what reaction a lanugo baby might receive from narrow-minded ‘Good Christian’ parents. Another similar religiously-connected word is

Caul

Noun; a part of the amnion sometimes covering the head of a child at birth.

It’s merely a bit of internal tissue, but superstitious peasants used to believe that it was a sign that the baby was owned or possessed by Satan. Such children were strangled, smothered, drowned, or stabbed at birth, or even worse, exposed to the elements to die, like the Athenians used to do.

The Christian portion of the world is getting better – moving forward into the discoveries of how the Universe works, but the Evangelicals don’t understand why large portions of the population – Good Christians, as well as Atheists – want to maintain separation of Church and State, and prevent being dragged back into the Dark Ages of superstition.

Now, if only we could get the Islamic portion to do the same.

Sorry if this was a bit of a downer. Comedy next Monday – bring your biggest smile.

Laughing Face

A Collection Of Atheism-Related Quotes

atheist-i-am

“Through the prior assumption that his beliefs of faith are true, the Christian necessarily concludes that any ‘conflict’ between reason and faith is a mistake. He does not want contradictions, so he will refuse to accept anything as evidence of a contradiction. There is no apparent contradiction that cannot be explained away — even if it entails the castration of the Christian religion and the sacrifice of reason.”

George H. Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God

“Whenever a man imagines that he need only believe the truth of a proposition, without evidence … he becomes capable of anything.”

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

“Because religious doctrines are supposedly ordained of God, the religious adherent cannot easily question the teachings of his chosen church, even when those teachings are provably false. The scientist, on the other hand, is most rewarded when he proves the conventional wisdom wrong and revolutionizes our understanding of the universe.”

David Mills, Atheist Universe

“At this very moment, millions of sentient people are suffering unimaginable physical and mental afflictions, in circumstances where the compassion of God is nowhere to be seen, and the compassion of human beings is often hobbled by preposterous ideas about sin and salvation.”

Sam Harris, Letter To A Christian Nation

“Monotheists have to practise intellectual gymnastics to explain how an all-knowing, all-powerful and perfectly good God allows so much suffering in the world.”

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

“Religious faith is, precisely because we are still-evolving creatures, ineradicable. It will never die out, or at least not until we get over our fear of death, and of the dark, and of the unknown, and of each other.”

Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great

“Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about. On the contrary, it is something to be proud of … ”

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

 

I’ve Run Out Of Punny One-Liner Titles

Comedy

For chemists, alcohol is not a problem….
….It’s a solution.

Despite the high cost of living….
….it remains popular.

I before E, except after C….
….disproved by Science

Please cancel my subscription….
….to your issues

Lif is too short

Couldn’t claustrophobia be cured by just thinking outside the box?

Some people are wise….
….some are otherwise

We’ll, we’ll, we’ll….
….if it isn’t autocorrect

Rick O’Shea….
….Is a bulletproof Irishman

My relationship with whiskey….
….is on the rocks

I hate it when people accuse me of lolly-gagging….
….when I’m clearly dilly-dallying.

After my friend turned vegan….
….it was like I’d never seen herbivore

My wife says I’m the cheapest person she’s ever met….
….I’m not buying it

If a midget smokes weed….
….does he get high, or just medium?

I accidentally handed my wife a glue-stick, instead of a Chap Stick….
….She still isn’t talking to me

Some people are like clouds….
….When they go away, it’s a brighter day

What’s black and never works?….
….Decaffeinated coffee, you racist

Life and beer are very similar….
….Chill for best results

Terrible summer for Humpty-Dumpty….
….but he had a great fall

I’m diagonally parked….
….in a parallel universe

Dismantling Of Faith

Big Bang

In the middle of a discussion thread on an Atheist blog-site, about the above title, ‘Ron’ showed up.  The following is my part of the amusement and puzzlement he caused.

Have you never read the laws of Thermodynamics, you can not create something out of nothing. Most sciencies are best guess answers. Even Darwin at the end of the day realized there was an intelligent design. Even Stephen Hawking, the physicist, knew that there was a intelligent design at work. Faith can be proven but not through man.

After the author explained that he was an engineer, we got

You can’t create something out of nothing, you don’t understand, how do you get past that.

After contradicting half a dozen commenters, and stating ‘facts’ that science clearly contradicts, he dropped

I might of misspelled the word it is a belief that everything has a spirit trees plants sun stars ect. It predates mans religion’s by thousands of years. Look around n you see the same belief structure. Faith is synonymous with belief this has lasted for thousands of years. It showed up n sumerian cuneiform about 6000 bc.

After another half dozen desperate ‘create something/nothing’ assertions, I thought that I might step in.

If the Big Bang Theory is even vaguely valid, In the Beginning, EVERYTHING existed…. every erg of energy, every quantum entanglement, every sub-atomic particle! All that has happened in the intervening 14 Billion years, is some minor rearranging.
If you want to go back before the bang happened, there was no Time, there was no Space, and there were no rules. Even now, sub-atomic particles appear to be winking into and out of existence.
There may be a parallel dimension, or an alternative Place???, which is a cosmic junkyard, and crap is just getting flushed into our Universe. But it could all occur without the need for or presence of an unverifiable God.

I got 4 likes for that comment, and this reply.

I will play your circle of reasoning before the big bang there was black matter. Black matter has a structure they just can,t figure it out. The cern collider is looking for what is called the God particle. Your argument falls to the ground.

I calmly responded

‘Inside the Universe,’ before the Big Bang occurred, no matter existed as such, including Dark Matter. If you are positing that Dark Matter exists/existed outside the universe, I am unaware of any scientific theory that it does, but you have provided a theoretical place, and a thing, where you have intimated there is ‘Nothing,’ for something to be created from, but still no proof of, or need for, “God.”
BTW; The CERN collider apparently has found the Higgs boson. As a snide, sarcastic dig at religious fundamentalists, it has been nicknamed The God Particle, because it seems to do what fundies insist only God can do, as usual, with no proof, only desperate hope.
It seems to be your argument which has collapsed.

I got 2 likes, and this rebuttal.

You quit learning there is a smaller particle then the Higgs boson. They are revamping the collider to find the next smallest particle which they call the God particle. Besides of which if you remember simple mathematics to negatives make a positive. That is Black matter it is not complicated.

The thread went on for 284 comments, at least half either from, or directed at, ‘Ron’ and his inane claims.  I decided that it was time to bow out with

The Higgs boson is called the God Particle because it is believed to give mass to matter. It does not automatically give up that title and pass it on, simply because a smaller particle(s) exists.
If a smaller particle is proven, it is unlikely that is comes from the Higgs. Even if it does, the complete, assembled boson is still required to impart mass, and the title remains.
Given the seriousness and complexity of the subject matter, it is difficult to take a discussion seriously, when the comments are replete with punctuation, spelling, usage, and construction errors. I’m done, as are you.

I didn’t want to descend to, what might be construed as a personal attack, but, honestly, I’ve had better submissions from 5th graders….but this guy appeared to believe that he understood Cosmology, Astrophysics, The Big Bang, and thermodynamics, when he couldn’t even correctly assemble a simple sentence or argument.

I recently published a post titled Desperation, in which I showed the amusing and troubling problems of trying to have a calm, reasoned discussion between Science and Christianity.  It can be done – just not if desperate, Chicken Little, hyper-Apologetics like ‘Ron’ are allowed to range free.  😯

Halcyon Days

Kingfisher

My ears threatened to go on strike.  We almost starved because I couldn’t stand to go into stores.  Within ten minutes, in one shop, I heard the song “Santa On The Sand”, and then “Christmas in Hawaii.”

We have entered the Festival of Conspicuous Consumption – otherwise known as the Christmas Season.  It began in November, right after Black Friday, a vile American ritual which has oozed into Canada like toxic waste.  It has even floated across the Atlantic like an oil spill, to infest the U.K.

This is the time of year when even the Good Christians forget the Christ Child, and enter into the frenzy of Too Much – too much food, drink, cooking, buying, spending, wrapping, visiting, travelling, and stress.

I was researching the word halcyon, when I came upon the term ‘Halcyon Days’.  There once (allegedly) was a minor Greek goddess, Alcidine, whose name has come down to us as Halcyon.  She fell in love with a minor god, and they shacked up together.  They were enjoying immortal life, and having so much fun, that they compared themselves to Zeus and Hera.

Zeus, whose Grumpy-R-Us franchise I inherited, threw a giant snit-fit.  He huffed and he puffed, and he blew up a powerful storm, and a huge wave crashed onto her lover and drowned him.  When she saw his dead body in the surf, she threw herself into the waves and also drowned.

Some of the other gods felt sorry for them.  Zeus’ magic could not be reversed, but it could be modified.  They were brought back as birds – kingfishers.  The modern scientific name for kingfishers is Alcidines.  The ocean kingfisher builds a little raft of a nest, safe from most predators because it floats upon the waters like Moses’ Magical Basket.

Aeolus was the god who controlled the winds and storms – except when Zeus used them to bump somebody off.  Because kingfishers breed and brood about the winter solstice, he promised two weeks of calm waters, so that the eggs would safely have time to hatch – one week before the solstice, and one week after – the Halcyon Days.

Inspired by this tale, I went into my back yard, and found a small nest-building-type stick that my new pair of Scottie Terrier puppies had wrenched off a shrub.  I brought it into the house, and jammed it into a bowl of semi-precious gemstones.  I printed off the photo above, cut out the outline, and hung it from the twig.

I have no giant, overstated Christmas tree that takes me three days to assemble and decorate, and another three days to put away.  It’s just a little tribute to peace and quiet, something which I feel many of us need during this frenetic time.  Give it a try.  You don’t have to believe in, or worship Greek gods – or any God – you just have to believe that you deserve a couple of weeks of tranquility, “while all about you are losing theirs.”  Peace be unto you – and peace on the rest of the idiots, too.  😉

Desperation

Bible

Apparently convinced that God is incapable of speaking for, or defending Himself, or the Bible, there are many Christians who take it upon themselves to speak for Him, and in their desperation to justify their beliefs, make fools of themselves and their religion.

In a recent post – On a book review, Frank Angle asked if there could be a reasonable discussion about the relationship of Science and Christianity.  The answer is yes, if the discussion is among intelligent, knowledgeable, open-minded people.

Among these vociferous Bible-thumpers, many of whom self-identify as Christian Apologetics, it seems that, the less they know, the more they have to say about it.  An American Protestant minister recently suggested to his flock that they might consider using a more up-to-date translation version of the Bible, for clarity, and ease of reading.  This was immediately shot down when a religious maven in the congregation stood up, and loudly proclaimed that, “If the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us.”

Not only do some of these Apologetics have trouble with facts and logic, they also seem to struggle with language and definitions.  One hyper-Christian seemed quite disturbed that Professors, researchers and leaders of Denominations other than his, learn about and teach things that his narrow-minded tenets won’t admit to.  Finally, with a flippant wave of his hand blog-post, he dismissed all of them with the self-contradictory label of Atheist Theologians.”

It is becoming common for Christian defenders to use the ‘Was you dere, Hymie?’ argument to any Atheist who claims to see no proof of God’s existence.  They will ask, “Have you been to every place in the Universe?  Isn’t it possible that God is hiding inside the Sun, or beneath the ammonia seas of Jupiter, or on some tiny planet wayyy over on the other side of the Universe?”

I immediately have problems with the idea of God needing, or even worse, wanting to hide from us.  Shouldn’t He be evident in all His radiant glory?  Who, or what, would God have to hide from?  And this ‘hiding’ business contradicts the Christians’ claims that ‘God is everywhere, in every thing, and in every space, permeating the entirety of Creation.’  C’mon guys…. Ya can’t have it both ways.

One of the sillier claims to appear recently was from Eddie the Evangelist, who seems to believe that some people become Atheists to appear smarter.   If this is the best desperate argument that Apologetics have to offer, it won’t take much to appear smarter than that.

I will admit that there are people who identify as Atheists, who smugly believe that they, and only they, have seen the truth, much like some Christians, and are therefore smarter than them.  It all comes back to definitions and reality.  Even if someone claims to be an Atheist because he’s angry at God for something, or to appear smarter, then he really isn’t an Atheist, because he still believes in God, the Apologetics’ claim isn’t really valid, and there’s no need of argument.

If Apologetics were absolutely, positively sure that God and salvation exists and they were right and that Atheists’ claims were false, then there would be no reason for these embarrassing, desperate claims and debates.  All the egotistical fuss they make is really about the fact that everyone doesn’t agree with them.  😛